Current Account Sustainability and Relative Reliability

58 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2008

See all articles by Stephanie E. Curcuru

Stephanie E. Curcuru

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Charles P. Thomas

Thomas & Son Analytics

Francis E. Warnock

University of Virginia - Darden Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 30, 2008

Abstract

The sustainability of the large and persistent U.S. current account deficits is one of the biggest issues currently being confronted by international macroeconomists. Some very plausible theories suggest that the substantial global imbalances can continue in a benign manner, other equally plausible theories predict a disorderly resolution, and in general it is very difficult to discern between competing theories. To inform the debates, we view competing theories through the perspective of the relative reliability of the data the theories rely on. Our analysis of the dark matter theory is cursory; from a relative reliability perspective, it fails as it is built on the assumption that an item that is largely unmeasured is the most accurate component of the entire set of international accounts. Similarly, the best data currently available suggest that U.S. returns differentials are much smaller than implied by the exorbitant privilege theory. Our analysis opens up questions about potential inconsistencies in the international accounts, which we address by providing rough estimates of various holes in the accounts.

Keywords: Current account imbalances, international investment, exorbitant privilege, dark matter, financial derivatives, real estate, short sales, R&D

JEL Classification: F3

Suggested Citation

Curcuru, Stephanie E. and Thomas, Charles P. and Warnock, Francis E., Current Account Sustainability and Relative Reliability (October 30, 2008). FRB International Finance Discussion Paper No. 947. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1292448 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1292448

Stephanie E. Curcuru (Contact Author)

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th and C Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Charles P. Thomas

Thomas & Son Analytics ( email )

5409 Center St
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
United States
2022075834 (Phone)

Francis E. Warnock

University of Virginia - Darden Business School ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-6076 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.darden.virginia.edu/warnockf/index.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138-5398

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